On Monday, Rev. Ezra Maize, a Democratic candidate for county mayor and a former leader of the local NAACP chapter, held a press conference on Market Square to complain that Democratic mayoral candidates— himself and Michael McBath—are not being given adequate attention by the local media and civic groups.
At the event, WUTK radio host Hubert Smith noticed there was no current representation from the Knox County Democratic Party standing with Maize. He said this—coupled with a lack of support for Chuck Williams, an independent running for state senate who felt snubbed by the party—led him to believe the local Democratic party has a problem with black candidates. “It seems very clear to me that they, for whatever reason, do not support minority candidates here in the county,” Smith says.
Knox County Democratic Chair Gloria Johnson called that statement unfounded, saying she has been in regular contact with both Maize and McBath, and that she also reached out to Williams. “I don’t care what color anybody is,” she says. Johnson says she understands Maize’s gripe with the lack of coverage in town, but that the party is not allowed to support one candidate over another during a primary. “Democrats have a hard time getting press, and that’s a fact. And they get frustrated, but the party is doing everything that [it] normally does at primary time,” Johnson says.